Taoiseach signs letter urging Denis O’Brien to lift ban on journalists

All political parties support letter calling on Communicorp to ‘reconsider approach’

Denis O’Brien: Communicorp  does not allow   journalists from The Irish Times to feature on its radio stations. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

Denis O’Brien: Communicorp does not allow journalists from The Irish Times to feature on its radio stations. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin are among the signatories of a letter calling on Communicorp and its owner Denis O’Brien to lift its ban on journalists from The Irish Times featuring on its radio stations.

The joint letter was supported by all political parties and groupings in the Dáil. It has also asked Communicorp to stop excluding journalists from the online business news site, currency.ie, and an academic, Dr Elaine Byrne.

The initiative was coordinated by Green Party leader Eamon Ryan and the letter, with the agreed text, is being posted on Monday to Adrian Serle, the chief executive of Communicorp.

The leaders of all parties in the Dáil have signed the letter. Ahead of the letter’s arrival, a spokesman for Mr O’Brien said he had “no comment” to make.

Journalists from The Irish Times have been banned from stations such as Newstalk and Today FM since columnist Fintan O’Toole criticised gender-balance at the broadcaster.

The letter states on behalf of all Oireachtas political parties: “We believe in free speech and in a free press. Nobody should be banned from the airwaves – journalists or citizens – except for very good reasons ( such as incitement to hatred).

“Nobody should be excluded from public discourse on those airwaves solely based on who his or her employer is.”

The letter argues the Communicorp policy runs counter to several provisions of the Broadcasting Act. “We ask that your company will reconsider your approach and look forward to hearing back from you in this regard,” it states.